Most Georgian surnames are derived either from patronymics or, less frequently, from toponyms, with addition of various suffixes. The Georgian surnames are frequently specific to a particular province. Thus, many surnames from western Georgia end in the suffix –dze (Georgian: ძე), literally meaning “a son”, while those from eastern Georgia end in –shvili (შვილი), literally meaning “a child”. Surnames from mountainous eastern Georgian provinces can be distinguished by the suffix –uri (ური), or –uli (ული). Most Svan surnames typically end in –ani (ანი), Mingrelian in –ia (ია), -ua (უა), or -ava (ავა), and Laz in –shi (ში).
The first recorded Georgian surnames date to the 7th-8th century. They were mostly toponymic in nature (such as Pavneli, Surameli, Machabeli, Orbeli), patronymic, or derived from the profession, social status, position, or title, which was hereditary in the family (such as Amilakhvari, Amirejibi, Eristavi, Dekanozishvili). Beginning from the 13th century, the surnames became more frequently based upon patronymics, a tradition which became almost universal in the 17th-18th century. Some of the Georgian surnames indicate ethnicity or regional origin of the family, and are also generated as patronymics. Examples are Kartvelishvili (“child of Kartveli”, i.e., Georgian), Megrelishvili (“child of Megreli”, i.e., Mingrelian), Cherkezishvili (“child of Cherkezi”, i.e., Circassian), Abkhazishvili (“child of Abkhazi”, i.e., Abkhazian), Somkhishvili (“child of Somekhi”, i.e., Armenian), Berdzenishvili (“child of Berdzeni”, i.e., Greek), Prangishvili (“child of Prangi”, i.e., French).
According to the 2008 report by Georgia’s Civil Registry Agency, the most common Georgian surnames registered in the country are:
- Beridze (ბერიძე) – 24,962
- Kapanadze (კაპანაძე) – 17,202
- Gelashvili (გელაშვილი) – 16,350
- Maisuradze (მაისურაძე) – 14,824
- Giorgadze (გიორგაძე) – 12,954
- Lomidze (ლომიძე) – 11,796
- Tsiklauri (წიკლაური) – 11,571
- Bolkvadze (ბოლქვაძე) - 10,916
- Kvaratskhelia (კვარაცხელია) – 10,447
- Nozadze (ნოზაძე) - 10,183